Damaging fat accumulation in the liver, especially common among the obese, might be reduced by eating tofu and other soy food products. Rats fed soy protein experienced less liver fat accumulation.
University of Illinois researchers will report this week that new research shows how soy protein could significantly reduce fat accumulation and triglycerides in the livers of obese patients by partially restoring the function of a key signaling pathway in the organ.
Hong Chen, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, will present her team's findings at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego.
Fatty liver disease is amazingly common.
"Almost a third of American adults have fatty liver disease, many of them without symptoms," Chen explained. "Obesity is a key risk factor for this condition, which can lead to liver failure."
Results like these show how much foods act like drugs. They alter our metabolisms in many ways. Whether a powerful food/drug like soy is a net benefit probably depends on the risks and problems faced by each individual.
While diet had no effect on the liver profiles of lean animals, the obese rats that were fed soy showed a 20 percent reduction in triglycerides and overall fat accumulation in the liver, leading Chen to believe that soy protein could be used to alleviate the symptoms of fatty liver disease.
Soy might also reduce the incidence of benign prostatic hyperplasia (swollen prostates - which are also common with age).
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